Padilla, Cassidy, Carter, Graves Introduce Bill to Improve EDA Support for Underserved Communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) along with Representatives Troy Carter (D-La.-02) and Garret Graves (R-La.-06) announced the bipartisan Economic Empowerment Through Predevelopment Act. This bill would authorize the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to make grants or cooperative agreements available for planning and predevelopment of infrastructure projects to support communities across the country.

Predevelopment activities are projects that must be completed prior to construction to advance infrastructure and development projects from concept to reality. This includes tasks such as planning and design, community asset mapping, training, technical assistance, feasibility and environmental studies, demonstration projects, and organizational capacity building. This legislation would create a predevelopment grant program at EDA to support local communities that otherwise may not have the ability to complete early-stage project development activities, which are often prerequisites to being eligible for larger state and federal grants.

“Despite having the greatest need, underserved, low-income, and rural communities continue to face financial and technical barriers in accessing federal grants,” said Senator Padilla. “This disparity unnecessarily delays and often prevents critical infrastructure development projects from moving forward. We must focus on inclusive economic growth by ensuring that all of our communities are equipped to sustain and grow investments and participate in today’s economy.”

“When the federal government sets aside money to help local communities, it should be simple to access,” said Dr. Cassidy. “We have to give local officials the resources to bring in experts to help them get that funding as quickly as possible.”

“The Public Works and Economic Development Act has been a significant catalyst in aiding communities to enhance their economic development and support struggling businesses during challenging periods. Many good ideas never move forward because they face barriers in the pre-development stage. To address this, the Economic Empowerment Through Predevelopment Act aims to help communities kickstart their projects by covering essential pre-development expenses, like inclusive community engagement and feasibility studies. This bill will speed up the implementation of more economic development projects, moving them efficiently from the drawing board to reality,” said Representative Carter.

“In some cases, our small cities and towns in the greatest need of economic development investment find themselves in the Catch-22 of not having the resources to develop grant proposals. Our bill attempts to address this impediment and help improve access to economic development opportunities. I appreciate the opportunity to work with Congressman Carter on this legislation again this Congress,” said Representative Graves.

“A dedicated source of EDA predevelopment funding would help spark economic development projects that might otherwise never advance, and would reduce barriers for small, rural, and capacity-constrained communities seeking to access subsequent EDA implementation funding. This exciting legislation will help support those communities that are most in need of federal assistance,” said Joe McKinney, Executive Director, National Association of Development Organizations.

“The bipartisan Economic Empowerment Through Predevelopment Act would provide much-needed resources to help our nation’s counties, parishes and boroughs advance economic development projects from conception to reality,” said National Association of Counties Executive Director Matthew Chase. “This bill would address predevelopment barriers, especially in rural areas, and facilitate investments in sustainable economic opportunities. We thank Senators Padilla and Cassidy for their leadership and look forward to working with our bipartisan congressional partners to secure passage of this legislation.”

Senator Padilla recently highlighted several of his priorities for EDA reauthorization legislation during a recent hearing by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Full text of the bill is available here